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Sunday, 14 September 2014

9jaflave Soliloquy - Ebola: And Let Us Not Forget Nurse Justina Ejelonu

Nurse Justina Ejelonu was one of those who lost their lives to the deadly Ebola Virus here in Nigeria. She was a qualified graduate nurse and had just a job with the First Consultant Hospital in Lagos. Infact she resumed duty at the hospital on the 21st of July, while Patrick Sawyer, the Liberian who brought Ebola into the country was admitted at the hospital the previous day.

In her Fiance's words: Sawyer was her first patient. She was one of the nurses that nursed him. She was pregnant and so her immune system was weak, which made it easy for her to contract the disease. On that first day which was a Monday, she was having some pregnancy symptoms, but I just encouraged her to go because it was her first day at work. Sawyer was her first patient. The next day, Tuesday, she didn't work on Sawyer. Wednesday and Thursday, she was off. Then on Friday, Patrick Sawyer died. They didn't know he had Ebola, it was three days later that they realized it was Ebola.

But while the nation celebrates Dr Ameyo Adadevoh as a hero, little is heard about others like Nurse Justina Ejelonu, whose commitment and dedication to her own profession led to her death. The joy of her being gainfully employed was quickly overshadowed by the preying hands of Ebola. She suffered and eventually lost her pregnancy, her seed not even given the opportunity to see the light of day.

And let us not forget the little things others do, though insignificant, will always make the big picture what it truly is. Let us not forget little acts of kindness, sacrifices and commitments others make to create a better world for all of  us. And let us not forget people like Nurse Justina who paid the ultimate price while in the course of duty. We should not be quick to forget that after the doctors have left, it is the nurses that monitor and care for the patient. She may not have been in the forefront, but she had dreams and aspirations and her life is worth celebrating too.

She fought valiantly to the end, even through a failed healthcare system, left alone and abandoned in her own excretions. Thank God for her fiance who found the courage to go in and clean her up, at least he gave her the dignity of dying feeling loved. And let us not forget to celebrate this young woman who cared for Mr Sawyer innocently, not knowing that her actions would lead her to an early grave.

Ufuoma Fijabi

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